Published: August 23rd 2009August 22nd 2009
In 2006 the whole Jensen family made a trip to Malawi. Ed Crookshank had seen the great need to strengthen the many, many struggling bush congregations which are scattered throughout the country away from the large city of Lilongwe. He conceived of the plan to choose four remote locations as teaching hubs. Each was accessible to a number of congregations. Since teachers would do the traveling and the school was not confined to a fixed location, it was called the Mobile Bible School (MBS).
We were honored to be the first teachers for this effort. Since the rainy season hampers travel for both teachers and pupils, classes are held six months of the year. This program has continued now for four years and is nearing it’s completion.
Jacob and I have returned to give instruction on the Major Prophets and the last six of the Minor Prophets. We are nearly the last teachers, since Ed will close things out by doing the teaching himself for the very last class. Each class has been one month in length.
Before the classes even began there was a great buzz among the brethren. In the town of Lilongwe there was a clamoring for classes
to be offered. So Ed agreed to add one additional hub right in town, in area 36. This brought the total hubs to five.
The teaching schedule was as follows - classes on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. First week of the month each location receives the first lesson. Second week of the month lesson two, and so on. Teaching is conducted from 9:00 a.m. till 1:00 p.m. The regimen of driving and teaching for a whole month is taxing on the teacher, but is only one class each week for the student.
1) Mondays - Nkhoma. The drive is 61 kilometers one way. Average attendance is 88.
2) Tuesdays - Salima. Drive distance 137 kilometers. Average attendance: 85.
3) Thursdays - Chawala. Drive distance 39 kilometers. Average attendance: 70.
4) Fridays - Kasiya. Distance 69 kilometers. Average attendance: 61.
5) Saturdays - Area 36 Lilongwe. Distance 13 kilometers. Average attendance: 75.
Brother Isaac Banda is a very competent translator. Without this wonderful “mouthpiece” we would be “dumb” (no snide comments please). Also, Shupi does the translation for the women. This month differs from my first teaching time with MBS in that
Jacob is teaching on Tuesdays and Fridays, which really gives my voice a reprieve.
Can you imagine the thrill of teaching about 380 Christians every week for a month?! Over the past years these brothers and sisters have received sound instruction on every Book of the Bible, as well as special classes like Old Testament Survey, Denominational Doctrines, the Church, the Christians Home, etc. How would you suppose these students might fare if we put their Bible knowledge up against a group from the States?
The instructors have included Ed and Lina Crookshank, Rod and Brenda Rutherford, Dave Amos, Wayne Burger, Jimmy Hill, Gary Young, Keith and Lois Besson, Fred Stroop, Ken and Barbara McAfee, George and Joy Jensen, and Jacob Jensen.
As Ed says, this arrangement may not work in every place, but it has proved to be very suited and effective here in Malawi. Unlike many efforts which require a huge budget, this program is simple and requires a minimal of funds. The Crieve Hall congregation backs the Crookshanks, along with others. If you noted the class times (9:00 to 1:00), they were carefully chosen so students could attend and be back to their homes
for meals. Crowds are not drawn by offering transport funds, meals, or gifts. Even the teacher’s notes which are translated into the Chichewa language are only given to those who have attended every class session. Most arrive on foot, many by bicycle, and a few by mini-bus (“Dala-dala” for those accustomed to the TZ terminology).
When the program was launched, we were all curious to see if the attendance would wane over time. Much to our delight it has continued strong - a testimony to the thirst of the people! Many congregations have been benefited. One location has drawn from nine congregations; the most pulls from about 14 surrounding churches.
We pray that as this effort draws to an end, that the benefits will live on in the lives of the learners and the use of the hundreds of teaching booklets. “Now unto our God and Father be the glory. . .” (Philippians 4:20).
George Jensen 2009
There are more photos below